ONE of the heroes of Newcastle Anglican diocese’s shocking history of responding to child sexual abuse in the Hunter has resigned after alleging he had been “punished by the church for being a whistleblower”.
Diocese business manager John Cleary’s resignation was announced in a statement released by Acting Bishop Peter Stuart on Monday.
“John Cleary has resigned from the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle by mutual agreement following a very demanding time for him and his family,” Bishop Stuart said.
“John has been dedicated and diligent in uncovering child sexual abuse in the diocese and in providing crucial support to survivors. John has spent over four years assisting the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.That has been extremely taxing on him and his family.”
Mr Cleary was singled out for praise by abuse survivors at the Newcastle Anglican Church hearing. A final report is expected in the near future.
In his statement Bishop Stuart said Mr Cleary had successfully held a number of varied and diverse roles in the diocese over the past decade, and overseeing 25 staff.
As Newcastle Anglican Schools Corporation chief executive Mr Cleary had used his banking experience to ensure the financial stability of four diocesan schools, Bishop Stuart said.
“As a result of his efforts, the diocesan offices are now located in a cost-effective modern business setting which will serve for many years to come,” he said.
“He exercised a leading role in upgrading and restructuring the Anglican Savings and Development fund of the diocese, growing it from $7 million to over $100 million.
“He brought considerable skill and expertise to managing, purchasing and selling of multi-million dollar property assets, many of which were of a complex and sensitive nature.”
Mr Cleary said he would look for another leadership role after 10 years with the diocese.
Evidence at the royal commission hearing revealed Mr Cleary’s exposure to details of horrific sexual abuse of children, and his efforts to ensure justice when victims appealed to the church.
Those efforts were challenged by a “cover up culture”, he alleged in a Fair Work Commission case against the diocese lodged in December.
In his claim Mr Cleary said he was relieved abuse within the diocese had come to light through the royal commission, as his time as business manager since 2007 had been “extremely challenging and difficult due to forces within the church”.